While we love the comfort that the feel of a carpet underfoot gives one, there is a downside to the beauty of a carpeted home. One has to take the proper care of a carpet, to keep its lifespan. Tips are offered on managing specific carpet stains. Advice is given on carpet cleaning methods.
The best method of cleaning a carpet is called the deep extraction method. This is also known as warm water extraction; hot water extraction; or steam cleaning. Most carpet manufacturers recommend this method, because it has been proven to be very effective. It removes dirt from deep within the carpet pile. The carpet must be pre-treated with special detergents. A warm water solution is then injected into the carpet pile. The detergent, water and dirt are then immediately removed out of the carpet.
One should clean carpets about once a year, more often if the carpets have high-density traffic, or if there are pets or children (or both), or if anyone has allergy problems. Carpets will then last longer; the air quality in the home will improve. No matter how often you vacuum your carpets the dust and dirt is never all eliminated. Deep extraction is the only effective way of obtaining a properly clean carpet. Contrary to popular belief, your carpets are not left wet once the deep cleaning has been conducted. The vacuum removes most of the water, leaving the carpet only slightly damp. It takes two or three hours to dry completely, depending on the weather.
(Deep cleaning also works well on your upholstered furniture and on your mattresses).
Treating Specific Carpet Stains
There are many potential stains to which your carpet can fall prey. This overview offers advice on the best removal methods for various stains encountered, whether they be wine or chewing gum.
- Acid stains: Such stains need swift action. Baking soda and water or club soda may be used initially on the stain. Thereafter, acid spills, such as drain cleaner or vinegar, should be diluted immediately with a solution of baking soda, or with club soda. A solution of ammonia (1 part) and water (10 parts) should then be applied. Vacuum carefully, after rinsing with cold water and allowing to dry.
- Blood: Soak up as much of the blood as possible (use paper towels), then mix 1 teaspoon white vinegar; 1 teaspoon mild detergent, and 1 litre warm water. Apply the solution to the stain; allow to dry. Apply dry-cleaning fluid. Once carpet has dried, vacuum it gently.
- Chewing gum: Chewing gum can be a sticky mess – harden it by pressing an ice-cube against the lump of gum. Once hardened, the gum may easily be removed.
- Candle wax: Should there be a wax stain, press an ice-cube against it. The wax will harden; it may then be removed.
- Butter: Scrape off as much as possible of the butter. Allow the carpet to dry after having applied dry cleaning fluid. Should the stain persist, repeat the treatment. Vacuum carefully.
- Tomato sauce: Make up a mixture of 2 cups water and 1 cup vinegar. Rub mixture into the affected area. Continue wrings out the sponge, reapplying until stain has disappeared.
- Alcohol: Dilute the stain at once with cold water; absorb the excess liquid with paper towels. Mix 1 teaspoon white vinegar, 1 teaspoon mild detergent, and 1 liter warm water. Apply this solution to the stain; once dry, carefully vacuum the carpet.
Other methods of cleaning include shampooing, dry-cleaning and bonnet cleaning. For these methods, it is necessary to agitate the carpet pile with brushes. This agitation is harmful to the carpet, causing physical damage to the carpet fibres, thereby reducing the life of the carpet. Any reputable company will not endorse these methods. Be careful to ask which method the cleaning company intends to use.
My favorite tip, because it works so well: no matter how old the stain or whether it is red wine or coffee, dip a clean cloth in white vinegar and then into salt. Rub the stain. Repeat, wetting the stain sufficiently and adding salt. I have removed ugly old stains this way.